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Heat Loss and the Exterior of Your House

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1) Your house’s orientation and landscaping

A home’s landscaping and orientation toward the sun affect your comfort in both the summer and the winter, as well as the amount of energy you’ll use. A house that is designed to take advantage of the sun for winter heating without overheating in the summer is ideal. South-facing glass allows the sun’s warmth into your home during the winter months.

Because the sun is angled higher in the summer, overhangs or awnings will block hot summer sun from coming in southern facing windows. Using tile, brick or concrete on sunlit floors or walls can store heat while the sun shines and will release it during cooler hours. Deciduous trees (those that lose their leaves in winter) on east and west sides will provide sun-blocking shade in the summer. It is also a very good idea to position Evergreen trees and hedgerows to block prevailing winds.

2) Peeling paint around your home

Peeling paint on the outside of a house can be caused by a variety of factors. It may simply be that it’s time to paint the house again, or it could be that there is insufficient drainage for rainwater. Peeling also may also be caused by excessive moisture movement through an exterior wall. This can be the result of rain being driven behind the siding, excessive indoor moisture from an area such as an unventilated bathroom, or an unbalanced forced-air distribution system.

3) Icicles, snowmelt or ice dams on your roof

Icicles may look quaint, but they could be a sign of heat escaping your attic and possibly other problems with the house, including attic moisture, roof degradation, and interior leaks and water damage. There is also the hazardous issue of when icicles break off and possibly hitting anyone that happens to be standing underneath at the time.

In the winter, take a look at the outside of the house to see if there are any icicles or spots where the snow has melted on the roof. In the summer, look for damage that could have been caused by icicles or ice dams, such as broken gutters, damaged shingles along the bottom of the roof, and mold on the inside of the attic or on the roof.

To reduce or eliminate such problems, it is critical for ceilings at the top story of the house to be adequately insulated and have effective air sealing on the warm side of the insulation. This ensures effective air leakage control so that warm air from living spaces isn’t leaking to the attic.